The business of wigs

The business of wigs

MASERU-WHEN Tlalane Mokhesi graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics degree from the National University of Lesotho (NUL) in 2019, she already knew that jobs weren’t easy to find.
Hence, she wasted no time walking up and down the streets with an envelope under her armpit searching for hard-to-find jobs.
Instead, she went straight into business and ventured into full time wig making.

The young 26-year-old from Koalabata is multi-talented. A musician, model, creative poet and economist, she said she started making wigs in 2018 while still at school.
She said the Academic Youth Progress Association that she was part of at NUL and headed by Kopano Sekhoari encouraged members to start businesses to beat the country’s high unemployment rate.
“I found myself interested in business since I started attending their sessions,” said Mokhesi.

She said the random idea of making wigs and dubbing it #wigsareconvenient popped in her mind and she implemented it.
She said she wasn’t a specialist hairdresser but doing home-economics at school helped her navigate her way around.
Mokhesi has made full use of social media to create a reliable customer base.

“I think I am lucky because I often get good customers,” she said, adding that her online presence made them trust her.
“Without social media I wouldn’t have a business as my personality doesn’t match selling on the streets. I won’t be able to do that as I am an indoor type of person,” she said.

Mokhesi said the business has grown since she started and she now also makes puffs and has engaged distributors in Butha-Buthe and Maseru.
She thinks her being an influencer contributed to the growth of her business.
“I am currently working on developing my brand value,” said Mokhesi, highlighting that she has been a performer since childhood and being a business owner was never part of the dream.

“I am rather a performer more than anything else and I discovered my passion at a very young age. I am a public speaker,” she said.
She said after completing her studies in 2019, she only applied for a job once.
“I am not actively looking for a job because I have my talent and also a business to run,” said Mokhese.

She said it takes her an hour to two to make a single wig, depending on the type.
Mokhesi said she focuses more on wig-making as most people don’t value her other vocations: poetry and singing.
“They refuse to pay so since I don’t do it for fame but a living, I don’t perform often,” she said adding that she only took to the stage three times last year.

She said networking helped her focus on the growth of her venture.
“I managed to have relations with suppliers to the extent that at times they do some favours that I wouldn’t otherwise get if I wasn’t acquainted to them,” she said.

Values such as credibility, reliability, availability and affordability are a cornerstone of her business, she said.
“They really go a long way in helping me focus,” said Mokhesi, who pays a lot of attention to feedback from clients.

“I listen to what my customers want, their suggestions are crucial for the survival of my business… sometimes the smallest thing like a wig cap can make one lose a customer,” said Mokhesi.
“I go as far as learning a new thing if my customers need it and the problem at times would be availability of materials,” she said.
She said being an entrepreneur taught her to be independent and since making wigs excites her, she also treats the job as a hobby.

“It gives me an opportunity to create something new and since I am all about creativity, it fulfils me and I am always excited to make a wig,” she said.
Mokhesi said the most exciting moment after the completion of a wig is taking photos wearing the wig.

Giggling on the other end of the line during the phone interview, she said: “I am photogenic so I enjoy taking pictures and I even won a prize for that.”
Mokhesi said being an entrepreneur requires several skills, amongst them the ability to remain positive, maintaining a sense of responsibility towards the brand and to be accountable.
She said her branding makes her business unique.

“In as much as other wig makers have names, they didn’t put too much emphasis on the name of their brand so that’s what I did. I made sure my customers don’t struggle to find me” she said.
“It means in the long run I don’t necessarily have to run my business as the brand will be trusted on its own, whether associated with me or not,” she said.

She has not been spared the brutal effects of the outbreak of Covid-19, which has put many people out of business. The lockdowns mean people don’t get to go out much, hence may not need fashion accessories such as wigs.

“Wigs are considered a luxury so people don’t wear it around the house so I kind of lose customers,” said Mokhesi.
Still, she thinks going into business is the best thing that ever happened to her. She wishes other young people could follow suit, but only if they are following their dreams.

“Passion drives the business and if one ventures into it for the sake of it, it will be difficult to withstand some of the challenges or pressures and they end up being discouraged when they don’t get any income,” she said.

’Mapule Motsopa

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